Moving-in to your new apartment or house can be a very exciting time. But it is also a critical time to take various precautions and begin the documentation process. There are many steps you should take during move-in time. In addition you should download the latest version of the Off-Campus Living Guide, a comprehensive guide on how to have a successful off-campus living experience, visit the Off-Campus Living Guide (PDF).
Hook-up Your Utilities
- Generally speaking, it is the tenants' responsibility to set-up the utilities. It is beneficial to contact the utility companies at least 2 weeks in advance.
- When doing your budget, you not only have to consider your rent each month, but also utility costs on top of that. Generally speaking, the cost of utilities may be the greatest when living alone. If you are sharing an apartment/house, you are also able to share the cost of utility bills.
- When living in an apartment, many landlords will pay the water, but you are usually responsible for all other utilities; gas, electric, telephone, cable, internet, cell phone, etc. When living in a house, landlords will typically ask you to pay for all utilities, including the water.
- Utility costs greatly vary. If you are living in an apartment complex versus an older home, the quality of insulation can be quite different. Houses tend to be a larger area of space to heat/cool.
- It is often beneficial to ask tenants that currently live in the apartment complex/house how much they pay for their utility bills on average. Gas, electric and water can vary based on usage. You can call the cable, internet and phone companies to get price quotes for the various packages they offer.
Factors to Consider:
- Age of the property: Unless the property has been renovated in the inside, many times the older apartments/homes may not have a lot of insulation. Windows may be old and allow for cold air to enter quite easily. Storm windows may not exist. Older units may not have central air. Window air conditioning units can be purchased, but tend to increase the electric bill drastically.
- Size of the property: The larger the unit, the more expensive it is to heat and cool. If you are renting a large house, the gas bill will probably be quite high in the winter months. Having roommates helps to share the utility costs.
- Location of the unit: Where you live in an apartment complex can affect the cost of your utility bills. Living in a corner unit versus a unit in between two apartments can be very different in terms of cost of heat, for example. If you live in an apartment that has neighboring apartments on both sides, for instance, your apartment would be well insulated from the cold weather and wind, therefore minimizing your heating bill. If you live in an upper unit, your apartment will reap the benefits of the heat from the bottom unit; heat rises.
Purchase Renter's Insurance
- It is highly recommended to have renter's insurance. Landlords typically have property insurance, but this does not cover your personal property. You want to make sure to have insurance to replace your belongings if they are damaged in a fire or stolen from your apartment, for example.
It tends to be cheaper to add a policy to the same company as your car insurance, for instance. You may also be added to your parent's home owner's insurance (check with their company's policy for details). If either is not an option, it is still inexpensive to purchase renters insurance.
Fill out a Move-In Checklist
- You want to walk through the entire unit, preferably prior to moving your furniture in, and document any and all damages/problems that you see. It is to your benefit to fill out the Move-In Checklist (PDF Document), make a copy for your records, and provide a copy to your landlord within the first 7 days of the lease term.
- You should also send a Notice To Repair letter to the landlord, outlining all repairs that need to be done.
- In addition to filling out the Move-In Checklist, you should also take pictures, so that you have visual documentation of any pre-existing damages (preferably prior to moving in furniture).
- Make sure you always keep a copy of any type of documentation for your records. Never hand over your only copy to anyone!
Video-Tape The Unit
- In addition to filling out the Move-In Checklist and taking pictures, you may also want to video-tape the entire unit. Make sure you do this as early during the lease as possible (preferably before furniture is moved in). Document the date (i.e. at the beginning and ending of the video-taping, hold out a newspaper with the date clearly visible). Video-tape the entire unit in one taping (do not stop or pause at any time).
Sign a Roommate Contract
- It is extremely important that you and your roommates are clear on your expectations. It is beneficial to all tenants involved to discuss all items on the Roommate Contract. Signing the contract allows for further documentation of verbal agreements.
Purchase Your City Parking Permit
- Many landlords do not guarantee and/or offer off-street parking. You may need to park your car on the street. Certain areas do require you to have a City Parking Permit. If you need additional information, contact the City at (614) 645-6400.
- A representative from the City sells City Parking Permits to students, mid-August at the Neighborhood Services and Collaboration office (3106 Ohio Union 1739 N. High Street Columbus, OH 43210). For dates and times, contact NSC at (614) 292-0100.
- You must have the following in order to purchase a City Parking Permit.
- Current Vehicle Registration
- Make sure your license plate number is on the registration.
- Proof of Residency
- Resident Applications: Please make sure to have a copy of a current utility bill in your name, your lease with your name on it, or a notarized letter from your landlord to verify residency.
- Current Vehicle Registration
- Make sure you are aware of the Street Sweeping Schedule
- If your car is not moved during posted sweeping dates, it will be towed at the owner's expense and other fines may apply!
- You should be knowledgeable on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
- You should be knowledgeable on the property owner's rights and responsibilities as a landlord.
- If you are ever having issues with your landlord and you do not know whom to turn to, you have a variety of options. Contact Neighborhood Services and Collaboration at (614) 292-0100; make an appointment with the Student Legal Services office, 614.247.5853.
- Living off-campus doesn't mean you can't eat in the dining halls. Campus Dining Services offers several meal plan options including the "Commuter Plus" plan for students who do not live in the residence halls. Visit http://urds.osu.edu/dining/meal-plans/dining-plan-descriptions/ for more information.
There are a variety of grocery stores near the campus area. Purchasing food at the grocery store versus eating at restaurants every day can help you budget your expenses. Refuse Collection
While living off-campus, you will obviously need to be aware of your trash pick-up day. Visit refuse.ci.columbus.oh.us/trash.htm for information on trash collection in your area. Remember, being a good neighbor also means keeping your property clean and clear of garbage.